Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) for Hair Loss

I have always been a skeptic when it comes to low level laser therapy (LLLT) treatments for hair loss. This is not to say that I felt there was zero logic or benefit in using lasers to treat scalp hair loss. In fact, for years, I have heard of the phenomenon of laser hair removal causing the unwanted and opposite side effect of laser hair stimulation in some people! However, I felt and still feel that the benefits of LLLT on scalp hair are modest at best. Lasers used for body hair removal are more powerful and quite different from those used to treat scalp hair loss.

Low Level Laser Therapy Best Wavelength

The lasers that are used in LLLT typically have a wavelength of anywhere between 600 to 900 nanometers. Anything below 600 nm tends to work less effectively. One study from South Korea found that the higher wavelengths in the above range gave superior results in mice.

LLLT Debate

The follically blessed Dr. Alan Bauman has always been a strong supporter of LLLT. This debate from 2008 between Dr. Feller and Dr. Bauman is quite interesting. Dr. Bauman was also part of a now famous 2004/2005 Dateline NBC show that followed 5 patients on different treatment protocols, with the HairMax Lasercomb resulting in favorable (but not stellar) results. See patient “George” at 8:10 onwards in this video):

Laser Devices for Hair Growth

Nowadays, numerous physicians support the use of Lasercomb or other laser devices for hair growth. The Amazon.com customer reviews for LLLT products such as the HairMax LaserComb and the iRestore laser cap typically average around 3.5 out of 5.0 stars. I would advise always looking at Amazon reviews with a critical eye, and giving more credence to reviewers who have their real names displayed and verified, and to reviewers who have posted reviews of many different types of products over the course of at least 2-3 years.

USC scientists — how the gene Wnt7b activates hair growth

This year has witnessed so much new and interesting hair loss related research, that it is hard to believe that in just this one month three universities published major new findings!  I already covered the news from U Penn in the US and King’s College in the UK in earlier posts this month.  Although those two findings were widely covered in the media (with the involvement of Cotsarelis at U Penn probably a major factor), perhaps I should have covered research from a much lesser known team from University of Southern California in the US first.

USC scientist Krzysztof Kobielak and postdoctoral fellow Eve Kandyba along with other colleagues have published three papers this year related to hair loss.  The latest of these three (published in November in the journal Stem Cells, but publicized this month)  focuses on how the gene Wnt7b activates hair growth. Earlier work by this team entailed research on how reduced BMP signaling and increased Wnt signaling activates hair growth, while increased BMP signaling and decreased Wnt signaling keeps hair follicle stem cells (hfSCs) in a resting state.  Much more in the link below:

https://stemcell.usc.edu/2013/12/18/stem-cells-offer-clues-to-reversing-receding-hairlines/

It is also encouraging that this project has received government funding via the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

A Hair Loss Blog